Last week we spoke about the purpose behind starting a business, a certain job, or even a hobby. This week is about Preparation. The article to which I referred last week spoke to the fact that a lot of entrepreneurs who are lured in by the title of entrepreneur start their businesses without really comprehending what goes into running the business day to day and, as a result, the majority of small businesses fail. Their founders are blinded by the shiny diamond of business ownership and do not stop to wonder what kind of pressure that diamond has to endure to become shiny in real life.
This is why, as the article states, passion and a big idea is not everything. A lot of background knowledge and preparation are needed as well.
Preparation comes in a lot of forms, though. I will not say that there is one absolute requirement, but there must be something. The article mentions how the allure of the Entrepreneur title also comes with the mindset of diving in, taking risks, and failing in order to succeed. Even though all three of those things occur in the life span of a business, starting off like that with no training wheels is a bigger risk than should be taken. And a rather arrogant one.
Think of it like going into a job interview without doing any research about the company or the position. The candidate is either arrogant or oblivious, neither of which bodes well for sustainable success.
Preparation for starting a biz can be many things:
- graduate school
- undergraduate classes
- a relevant workshop
- relevant work experience
- interviewing business owners you know
- reading Entrepreneurship For Dummies
- listening to a podcast
- keeping your day job
- waiting a few years
- praying to God
- moving back in with your parents
- all of the above
The cool thing about this modern age is that graduate school is not required for so many jobs. The positive of this is that more opportunities are available and people can take more risks on their own, but the negative is that people think that they are qualified for the pursuit. Even worse, they think they are qualified and dive in to something like entrepreneurship equipped with nothing more than their self-righteous determination.
I thankfully had numerous levels of preparation when I started my company:
- I kept my day job
- I had four years of relevant work experience
- I knew multiple people who had started businesses and had interviewed them
- I had wanted my own business for so many years that the idea could marinate
- I had a support system for the business inception
- I had an exceptional level of common sense and adaptability
I did not need to go to graduate school, I did not need to move back home, and I did not read a single book on entrepreneurship or business.
That six part prep I had gave me enough of a foundation to comfortably start a business, but by far the most important tool in my toolbelt was years of relevant work experience.
I knew it was time to start my business when I realized how my skills could be offered in a valuable way on their own. I was able to assign a monetary value to them at the outset and I was working with clients before I even had a website, company name, or email address. Having not gone to graduate school for a MBA or having not started the business with anyone but me, myself, and I, I have had to adapt A LOT over time and change so many things: my business model, my services, my prices, etc.
But I was able to adapt with confidence because I had a strong foundation of my own unique preparation.
As my business continues to evolve, so does the kind of preparation that I need.
Now let us extrapolate for those of you who are starting a new job or new hobby:
- What kind of background knowledge or preparation do you need for that new job?
- What kind of research should you do for it?
- What questions do you need to ask?
- Who do you need to ask?
- What are you personally interested in knowing?
- For a hobby, what kind of supplies are needed?
- What background knowledge do you need to know about the activity?
- Who could you ask about it?
- What does the activity entail?
Even though diving into something is thrilling and makes for a great, risk-taking story, it is still a risk. In a later post we will talk more explicitly about the challenges of entrepreneurship, but for now continue to consider these two questions: